Kellie & Breeze: And now we must introduce you to a wonderful little lass by the name of Tia, who visited us in Canberra in mid-2004. Tia was rescued by our Pack Leader's son Stephen and his partner Jacqui, who live in Melbourne, Victoria. We tend to regard ourselves as, respectively, Tia's aunt and great aunt, and we're pretty sure she looks upon us as just her two weird-but-lovable big sisters. Either way, we can tell you that she is just the most beautifully behaved young lady you could ever hope to meet, with enormous charm and impeccable manners. In fact, when it comes to behaviour, we readily admit that Tia puts us two right in the shade. Maybe that's the reason why our occasional lapses into questionable and rambunctious behaviour always elicit a "Why can't you be more like Tia?" response from an exasperated Pack Leader or Alpha Female.

Kellie & Breeze: So here's little Tia pictured posing for the camera during a walk in Fitzroy Gardens in Melbourne. We don't think there's much of Melbourne that she hasn't seen because she goes absolutely everywhere with Steve and Jacqui - and we mean everywhere. She even gets to ride on the trains, which makes us rather envious on account of the fact that there are no trains in Canberra, more's the pity. (Unfortunately, however, doggies are not permitted to travel on the trams in Melbourne, a scandalous example of anti-canine discrimination against which we intend to protest, and protest vigourously, next time we visit that city.)

Breeze: Another mode of transport Tia has chalked up already is the airliner. Yep, when she visited us in mid-year, she flew all the way here on a Qantas jet, taking it all in her stride. When she finally arrived at No 86, looking just a tiny bit disoriented from that new and rather exciting experience, Kellie and I gave her a warm welcome and tried to make her feel right at home.

Kellie: Tia's what you might call a "city dog", so we thought she might appreciate getting out into the countryside a bit while she was in Canberra. So here we are in the former Stomlo forest. It would have been nice to introduce her to the joys of kangaroo-chasing while we were over there but, alas, the whole area has been almost devoid of kangaroos since all the trees got burned down by the January 2003 bushfires. Still and all, we're fairly sure Tia enjoyed this little excursion. She certainly behaved as if she did.

Breeze: I say, Kellie, do you suppose that's a kangaroo in yonder dale? Or a wallaby, perchance?

Kellie: Alas, no, Mama. Methinks 'tis but an itinerant rustic, alone and palely loitering.

Tia: Kangaroo? What, prithee, is a kangaroo?

Breeze: A kangaroo, mistress Tia, is to us as the Capulets are to the Montagues. We are, as they say, at variance with each other; hence our canine compulsion to occasionally give them chase with unalloyed gusto.

Kellie & Breeze: We must say that we tend to shudder when we think what might have happened to Tia had she not been rescued by Steve and Jacqui. It really doesn't bear thinking about. But rescued she was, as a result of which she now has an absolutely wonderful life, being looked after by two humans who treat her as if she is right at the centre of the known universe - in return for which she effortlessly charms the socks right off everyone she meets! Gives us a really nice warm feeling, that does. It really does seem that some things are just meant to be. At least that's what we think.

Kellie & Breeze: One thing we didn't manage to do while Tia was here was take her for a swim. Never mind, we'll introduce her to the delights of the aqua next time she visits us. As for us two, well, as you would expect, the ol' Molongolo River got a bit of a hammering over the next couple of months.

Breeze: Sometimes Kellie lays in wait to ambush me and sometimes she just sneaks up behind me to steal the stick. All part of the fun, really.

Kellie: Other times my Mum will just be cruising along at economy speed, steady as she goes, and I'll bark "Dive! Dive! Dive!", just for a lark.

Breeze: And everytime she does that, I wind up with weighty philosophical questions on my mind, like, for example: "I wonder if there are any fish down here".

Breeze: Retrieving the stick hurled out into the river by the Pack Leader is, of course, one of the most important duties I perform - so important, in fact, that I occasionally employ Kellie as close escort. I have occasionally asked the Pack Leader to perform the same escort duty, but he always declines the invitation, explaining that, to him, swimming is nothing less than the art of trying to stay alive while he is in the water. He'd never make a Golden Retriever, our Pack Leader.

Kellie: One of these days we really are going to catch a fish tumbling down these rocks. We saw a bear doing this sort of thing on TV a few weeks ago, so we've got the technique down pat.

Kellie & Breeze: This is the life, you know. It doesn't get any better than this. Golden Retrievers in their natural habitat. A stick in one's mouth. The sun glinting off crystal-clear water on a bright, sunny day. The Pack Leader continually yelling from the bank that it's time to go home now. Us studiously ignoring him, thus reducing him once again to a state of exasperation and apoplexy.